Acorn Spätzle

5 from 3 votes
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Acorn spatzle with roast squab.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I love acorn spätzle, the little Teutonic dumplings we most associate with dishes like wienerschnitzel or sauerbraten.

This is a pretty standard recipe for German spätzle, only I add some acorn flour to the mix to make them earthier, nuttier and generally more rustic; I think they go better with wild game that way.

While you can make them with a colander, a coarse plate on a food mill or potato ricer, a cheese grater or even by flicking the batter off a board by hand, by far the best way to make spätzle is to spend the $15 and get a spätzle maker. You’ll not only thank me for making the process so easy, you’ll find yourself making a lot of spätzle.

While there are a few online sources for acorn flour, you pretty much have to make it yourself — here are instructions on how to make acorn flour.

That said, you can buy chestnut flour from specialty stores, or online. In a pinch, you could use spelt, rye or barley flour and get a similar effect.

Acorn spatzle with pigeon on a plate
5 from 3 votes

Acorn Spätzle

Serve these little dumplings in broth, or sauteed in butter... or duck fat. I like them alongside pan-roasted band-tailed pigeon, which is how they are served in this picture. 
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: German
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 3/4 cup acorn or chestnut flour
  • 1 1/4 cups regular or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Instructions 

  • Whisk together the two flours and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and eggs together in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour and mix well with a fork until you get a sticky batter.
  • Cover and let this sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes, to allow the flours to hydrate.
  • Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil. Using a spätzle maker, a coarse grater, colander or other device with large holes, drop the spätzle dough into the water in little bits. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes after they all rise to the surface.
  • If you are eating them now, they’re ready. To hold for up to a day or so, plunge the spätzle into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and toss with a little oil, then set out on a sheet pan for up to a few hours, or in a covered container for a day or two.
  • I prefer to serve my spätzle by frying in a bit of butter after they're all made and chilled. Heat maybe 1/4 cup of butter in a large, wide pan and lay the spätzle down on it. Toss to combine, then let the spätzle brown a bit by not moving them for about 90 seconds. Remove from the pan and serve hot. 

Nutrition

Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 624mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 109IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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12 Comments

  1. This is the first recipe of yours that I’ve had to tweak. Maybe a typo in the amount of liquid? It’s taking more than a cup for me (using chestnut flour) to get a sticky dough. Love the end result regardless, thought you might want to know

  2. I had always heard acorns weren’t really edible, until I started reading your blog. What about horse chestnuts, which are also high in tannin and mostly considered inedible, though one or two places said “without intensive processing”. Have you ever tried your leaching process on horse chestnuts? We have them all over in Colorado, and I would love to use the big glossy nuts for something useful. Thanks.

  3. Spaetzle is also really good with bread crumbs toasted in butter and then poured over the spaetzle, but I particularly like it that way only with minced onions in there for good measure. Yummy.

    I am going to have to start looking for a good bunch of oak trees- don’t have any near here, but they are in the area…

  4. Ahhhh…. We adore Spaetzle and look forward to eating it several times during fall and winter. Our relatives Axel and Irma taught us how to make it by hand using a cutting board and knife. Wish I’d taken a video of that training- sloppy fun! You’re definitely correct about purchasing a spaetzle maker.

  5. Acorns are well worth the effort – which isn’t as much as you might have been led to believe. Thanks for the great recipe, Hank, I’ll definitely put it to use.

  6. My family loves this recipe as gnocchi, especially during our long winters. It is much more satisfying than the potato version or any pasta, presumably because of all the acorn protein and fat. This year, however, we’ve had NO acorns. Our freezer acorn flour becomes that much more precious. Thank you HAGC, for making this a staple in our diet!!!

  7. Well, I am trying to decide which tod o this afternoon, harvest the jonathan apples just waiting to be applesauced or continue with my Hank Shaw acorn gathering project. I may get both done, we’ll see.

  8. Can you speak to the various types of oak/acorn? I have two water oaks (quercus nigra) and a live oak (quercus virginiana) in my yard, and they’re spitting out a bumper crop of acorns this year. Is either variety worth eating? I could fill a 5-gallon bucket in a matter of minutes just by raking/sweeping the patio.